Word of the day

July 5, 2014
Cumberground – totally worthless object or person; someone who just takes up space; something that is just in the way.

Rural round-up

July 5, 2014

 Proud to be a dairy farmer – Will Leferink:

You could say I started back in the day when no one would likely tweet what you said or even know what a tweet was.

I will probably end my Feds career on the national stage with someone tweeting something right now.

So please Tweet this.

I am so very proud of New Zealand’s dairy farmers.

To use farming vernacular you are good buggers.

I am not talking our immense economic contribution because everyone gets that.

I am talking about the fantastic contribution being made by us environmentally. . .

Minister corrects incorrect claims about national freshwater standards:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today moved to correct incorrect and misleading comments made about the Government’s ground-breaking national freshwater standards.

The Government yesterday announced clear, robust national standards for freshwater that will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

This means, for the first time, New Zealand’s rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

However, some, including the Green Party, the Labour Party and Massey University environmental ecologist Dr Mike Joy, have resorted to making incorrect claims about the freshwater reforms that have gone unchallenged.

“Some of New Zealand’s best freshwater scientists came up with numeric values for the national standards.

“Ministers have not been involved in any way in the scientific detail of the framework. We were deliberately hands-off during this part of the process so we could get the best scientific information. . .

Environment the winner in freshwater reforms:

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, incorporating the National Objective Framework, is the most comprehensive approach to sorting environmental issues for this country’s freshwater resource. While tough on farmers it is equally tough on urban New Zealand.

“Unlike the Green Party, which has the divisive notion the dairy industry should be held accountable for absolutely all water quality, this seminal policy makes it clear that urban and rural water must be treated equally,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Water and Environment Spokesperson, who was also on the NOF reference group.

“Using a local example, this applies equally to the Avon River, the South Island’s most polluted urban waterway even before the earthquakes, as it does to the Hinds River in Mid-Canterbury. . .

Dairy farmers ready to take action to implement water quality standards

Dairy farmers are up for the challenge of working with local communities to fix local water quality problems and deliver on the Government’s new national water quality standards.

“DairyNZ will implement these new standards with farmers. We have a firm commitment from the industry and from our farmers on that front. Where there’s an agreed problem that needs fixing, we’ll get in there and do our bit,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore.

“The dairy industry supports farming to environmental limits to solve identified water quality problems. We’re already doing that kind of work across the country with farmers and councils in 15 priority areas. We also spend more than $11 million a year of dairy farmers’ levy money on environmental initiatives including local water quality studies and supporting farmers to take action to fix issues.” . . .

Earthquake-prone buildings farm exemption welcomed as a first step:

Federated Farmers is delighted Government has seen the logic of exempting farm structures from the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as a first step to ensuring the viability of rural towns is not compromised.

“It was mind boggling to hear the Minister cost the inclusion of farm structures in the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as being an imposition of $170 million,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers new Vice-President.

“We naturally welcome this exemption since no one in the recorded history of farming in New Zealand has ever been killed in a collapsing farm structure during an earthquake. It was a clear case of regulatory overreach. . .

Fonterra Forms Exclusive Partnership with UK-Based Dairy Crest:

Fonterra has entered into an exclusive partnership with UK-based Dairy Crest to market and sell two products for the fast growing global baby food market.

The products – Galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) and Demineralised Whey – are both used in the manufacture of infant formulas, and will be manufactured by Dairy Crest. Fonterra will be the dedicated and exclusive sales channel for the infant formula ingredients produced.

Dairy Crest is entering into a newly-formed joint venture with UK-based Fayrefield Foods to produce the GOS. These plants are expected to begin production in 2015. . . .

First NZ tourism attraction to gain certification:

Rotorua’s Te Puia became the first visitor attraction in New Zealand to have staff certified in rural skills today, with its Environment Team members presented with a National Certificate in General Skills Agriculture (Level 2) – Primary Sector.

The Primary ITO, New Zealand’s largest industry training organisation, officially presented the certificates this morning, after 12 months of training on and off-site. The qualification included training in the use of chemicals; driver training for tractors, forklifts and quad bikes; chainsaw use and health and safety.

Te Puia’s Environment Team are responsible for all maintenance across the 70 hectare geothermal site, including horticulture, hygiene and the conservation of native flora and fauna. Part of their role has involved the removal of undergrowth to expose natural geothermal features, with an ongoing focus on ensuring pathways are clear and safe for visitors. . . .

96 Points Rapaura Springs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Back to Back Double Gold’s:

Marlborough Winery Rapaura Springs is justifiably proud of its recent Double Gold award and 96 point rating at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Challenge 2014.

One of only a handful of wines from New Zealand to achieve this award, it’s made all the better by the fact we received the same recognition from the esteemed panel of judges last year. Both the 2013 and 2012 vintage Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines have been awarded Double Gold medals. Talk about consistent!

Owner Brendan Neylon praises “a great team effort and an unwavering focus on quality, from the vineyard to the winery”. . .

Luring British Wine Professionals to New Zealand’s Largest Wine region:

Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation are proud to announce that applications for the 2014/2015 Wine Marlborough NZ-UK Link Foundation scholarship are now open.

The history of the scholarship began in 2009 when Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation, together with the late John Avery MW, established a scholarship to fund an exceptional wine industry professional from the UK to travel to New Zealand to experience Marlborough’s wine industry. The aim of the scholarship is to further the recipient’s wine knowledge and assist in their personal development as a potential leader in the wine industry. . .


Wills signs off saying politics matters

July 5, 2014

Federated Farmers retiring president Bruce Wills used his final speech in the role to say politics matters: (The bold is mine)

I want to start this, my final address as National President of Federated Farmers, with a thank you.

Thank you for the privilege of being your President, thank you for your support, and thank you for all the work you continue to do for Federated Farmers and farming.

Three years has flown by.

I have enjoyed doing ‘my bit’ to help farming remain profitable and sustainable, and like our own aspirations with our farms, I feel I have left this organisation in better heart than I found it. I will return to the hills of Hawke’s Bay later today knowing there is a very capable and competent team to take it from here.

Before signing off I want to reflect on the two things that have absorbed much of my time in this role, the economy and the environment.

The economy
Farming confidence is high and some sectors are close to being as strong now as they have ever been.

Our dairy farmers have just received their highest pay-out in history and there is a quiet optimism in the dry-stock sector with the ‘China affect’ now benefitting red meat and wool.

Food and fibre represents an extraordinary 70 percent of this country’s merchandise exports and if done well is entirely renewable. We are well on the way to doubling the value of our agricultural exports to $64 billion by 2025, on the back of an exploding world population and rising standards of living.

 

I cannot stress enough the importance of free and open trade. In six short years, China has become our biggest export partner as well as our biggest import market.

When I joined the Board of Federated Farmers, in 2008, our two way trade with China was $8 billion. Last month we broke through $20 billion and we are on track to exceed $30 billion within the next six years.

Our 2013 trade deal with Taiwan is ramping up quickly and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) remains a prize we must pursue with all the vigour we can.

No question, we have some challenges.
In recent days the New Zealand Dollar has approached all time highs against both the US Dollar as well as the Trade Weighted Index. This will be a significant headwind and may well prompt a slowing in further interest rate rises.

I have continually cautioned about our very high debt levels.

I note a large monthly increase of $842 million to the end of May reaching a total of just under $53 billion now loaned to our farms alone. In light of global uncertainty across many areas I am not sure how sustainable this sort of debt level is.

A few years ago Australian farmers had $70 billion of rural debt and things looked okay. Then came a serious weather event and now $10 billion of this is ‘non performing’ with a good portion of it unlikely to ever be repaid. We run the same risk here.

I have learnt in this role that ‘politics matters.’

For the past six years we have had a Government that has been largely supportive of agriculture. Should we have a change of Government on September 20, this is unlikely to continue to be the case.

Putting these challenges aside, what I have also learnt from my three years with the World Farmers Organisation is that New Zealand farmers are the envy of the world. Everywhere I travel people are stunned how a small island nation, a long way away, can be such a powerhouse when it comes to producing food and selling it competitively to the rest of the world.

I have learnt that we are a grass fed economy and what happens on our farms absolutely matters on Lambton Quay and Queen Street and all the towns in-between.

We are some of the best farmers on the planet and Agricultural exports will continue to pay the lion’s share of this country’s bills for a long time to come.

The environment
This is the flip side of the economy’s coin, the natural resources, which allow us to keep our food and fibre businesses forever renewable.

Three years ago I called for a more open and honest discussion about farming’s impact on the environment.

We have come a long way. The Land & Water Forum got us talking with all the interested parties and we listened to the concerns of others and have pursued a more collaborative approach to resolving our differences.

Getting agreement is not easy but having the science and being well informed on the issues is the key to making sensible progress. We have engaged a lot with parties right across the economy/environment spectrum and this organisation has gained significant credibility from its more reasoned and reasonable approach.

Some believe it is about winners and losers, I don’t. Farmers understand the ‘black and green’ bit well, it is difficult to invest in environmental innovation without running profitable businesses, and we certainly can’t keep farming without resilient long lasting farming practices.

The big issue of my time in this role has been water. How do we maintain and improve its quality in the face of a growing population, and an expanding and changing farm business environment?

The main focus has been the nutrients we lose from our farms finding their way into our streams, rivers and lakes. We can sort phosphorus, which is largely about good management. It is the diffuse nitrogen leaching that remains our biggest challenge.

All farmers, that I know, strive hard to be profitable and most do a wonderful job looking after their land and their water. Being sustainable is good business, and wasting expensive nutrients just doesn’t make sense.

We have seen a rapid land use change to dairying in the last twenty years. This has pushed onto lighter soils and in some areas we are seeing too many nutrients being lost. The science is telling us this and farmers have been responding for some time by fencing water ways, riparian planting, preparing strict nutrient plans and adopting more efficient irrigation.

In some sensitive areas more needs to be done, and again farmers are responding by building feed pads, herd homes or other means of controlling effluent runoff. Less inputs and reducing cow numbers are further options, and more science is needed for some. I am very encouraged at how quickly farmers are responding to this challenge.

I had the privilege last week to be in Christchurch to judge NZ’s top 10 supreme environmental winners from all around the country. They are outstanding operators leading by example, running profitable businesses, but well and truly meeting their social and environmental responsibilities as well. I think it is telling that the national winner was a large scale intensive dairy farm, on some of Canterbury’s lighter soils. This is exactly the sort of farm at the sharp end of this economy/environment conundrum that we are trying to solve.

Mark & Devon Slee milk 2,580 cows producing 1,830 kgMS/ha, or 475kgMS/cow, but with precision farming, smart science and exceptional management, are leaching the same nitrogen they were leaching in the mid ‘90’s with 70% more cows. Their immediate focus is on reducing their nutrient losses even more.

This is a clear example that we can and must do both. Whilst running efficient profitable businesses, we must do this within sustainable environmental boundaries. All the other nine finalists had very similar stories to tell.

I need to congratulate the CEO of Fish & Game, who took up my challenge of coming to this awards evening to see for himself the great results that our leading farmers are achieving and to follow this up with a Fish & Game media release that quoted the following:

“Dairying has never won the top national award before,” says Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson. “In winning the coveted Gordon Stevenson Trophy, Mark and Devon are demonstrating that environmentally sustainable and profitable dairy farming is not only possible, but up there alongside the other farming categories that have previously won the top national award.”

To ensure all New Zealanders prosper we must continue to grow our largest industry but we must also look after our environment.

This is our challenge; and as I pack my bags and hand over the reins I am more convinced than ever that this is entirely achievable and our farmers are well on the road to making this a reality.

Thank you.

Wills has left Feds, and New Zealand, better for his service.


Guard changes at Feds

July 5, 2014

Federated Farmers has a new president and CEO.

Dr William Rolleston, former vice-president was elected unopposed to lead the organisation and Graham Smith takes over as CEO.

As Vice-President since 2011, I am honoured to be entrusted with a leadership role following in the footsteps of some farming greats,” says Dr Rolleston, Federated Farmers new President.

“Federated Farmers is New Zealand’s foremost rural advocate with a proud past and strong future. 

“Our National Council knows that the President must represent the views of all members and Federated Farmers is a broad church. I endorse this principle.

“I believe we can learn from all form of farming systems, including  organic practices, so long as these are underpinned by robust science.

“Given the overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity, including agriculture, plays a significant role in climate change, science and innovation are key to the future of farming. Science and innovation are also key to the water quality sphere.

“I am fortunate that our Grain & Seed Industry Group chairperson, Ian Mackenzie, is staying on the Board for another year.  His work in the Land & Water Forum was publicly acknowledged yesterday by our Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy. 

“Ian is widely respected even among the environmental lobby.  His expertise and wise counsel will be welcome.

“As will be the support of my Vice-President, Wairarapa’s Anders Crofoot.  As our buildings spokesperson, I must acknowledge the success Federated Farmers has had in convincing Government to remove farm structures from its earthquake prone buildings Bill.

“A $170 million saving for farmers is an auspicious start for my tenure and a tangible example of the value Federated Farmers delivers for its members and farming in general.

“I will draw on the myriad of skills that the West Coast’s Katie Milne offers, especially on the high profile areas of rural security, employment and adverse events. 

“As a Board Member at large, she is joined in that capacity by Mid-Canterbury’s Chris Allen, who is fast developing expertise in water policy.

“I look forward to working with my newly elected Industry Group chairs, Rick Powdrell from Bay of Plenty for Meat and Fibre and Andrew Hoggard from Manawatu-Rangtikei for Dairy.

“Both are exceptionally talented farmers with an outstanding grasp of industry issues.

“Speaking of extremely talented people, Bruce Wills has been an inspiration to me.  His focus on environment collaboration and communication has done much to represent the modern face of farming.  These are themes I wish to continue with the new Board.

“As a Board it speaks volumes about Federated Farmers that someone of Graham Smith’s calibre came to us to be our new Chief Executive. 

“As Graham has started the handover process with Conor English I wish to thank Conor for his guidance over the period I was Vice-President and before that as a provincial president.

“I am excited by the future,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

Wills and English have overseen a change for the better in Federated Farmers for which all involved in farming and the wider rural community should be grateful.

They have provided a strong foundation on which the new leadership can build and carry on the much-needed work representing and advocating for farmers, farming and rural New Zealand.


Lifting educational achievement

July 5, 2014

It’s risky for government’s to set targets.

National took that risk with its Better Public Service Targets and is making good progress towards them.

One of the targets was lifting educational achievement  and pupils and students are making good progress:

Education Minister Hekia Parata says thousands more young people are on the road to success as a result of continued improvements in NCEA achievement and early childhood education participation.

Ms Parata says the improved results for the Better Public Service Targets in both areas highlight the impact of extensive work to make sure that all kids get the chance to do their very best.

“We’ve now got 78.6 per cent of 18 year olds with a minimum of NCEA level 2, which is up 4.3 percentage points in just two years and up more than 10 percentage points since 2008.

“That means in the past two years alone, nearly 1600 more kids getting over the line. That’s an outstanding achievement that gives them many more options in life and better prospects.

“It is especially heartening in that period to see a 6.2 percentage point increase for young Maori, and an increase of 5.9 percentage points for our Pasifika students.

“We know there’s more work to do, particularly for the target groups, to ensure we have 85 per cent of all 18 year olds achieving NCEA Level 2 by 2017 and we’re doing it. The targeted approach our Government is taking to education works.

“Over the past five years we’ve focused on collecting data from across the whole education system so we can see how it’s performing at every level and where we need to target resources.

“That has helped identify which students need what kind of support through programmes such as Pasifika Power Up, Youth Guarantee, Achievement 2013-17, and Trade Academies.”

Ms Parata says the $359 million Investing in Educational Success initiative is designed to lift student achievement further through improved teaching and leadership in school and will also mean better outcomes.

“We know those are the two areas that have the biggest in-school impact on student achievement, and that’s why this investment is being made.

Ms Parata says the increase in early childhood education (ECE) participation to 95.9 percent is exciting because it gives so many more children the right start in life.

“We’ve seen growth for all groups in ECE participation including Maori and Pasifika, and overall it represents another 3,839 kids since mid-2011.

“We are committed to continuing all efforts to make sure that by 2016, 98 per cent of all new school entrants will have been in ECE.

“In Budget 2014, we invested a further $155.7 million over four years in early childhood education, which means Government spending on ECE has almost doubled, from over $800 million in 2007/08 to $1.5 billion in 2013/14. “

Ms Parata says changes across the education system and funding boosts will allow generations of children more promising futures.

“We have made big strides. We are going to continue building on that by looking at further support in particular for children with special needs and working to make the whole education journey more seamless and successful. In both of those areas we’re already making significant investment.

“We have increased funding for special needs by 26 per cent over the past five years and have given schools a $600 million increase in operational funding that covers areas like teachers’ aides.

“There is of course more we want to do in special needs. That will be of the focus of more work over the coming months, as will Investing in Educational Success so we have communities of schools and the new roles for teachers and principals in place from next year,” Ms Parata says.

 

Figures for NCEA Level 2

National’s determination to lift educational achievement is working for the pupils and students, prospective employers and it’s #‎Working4NZ‬:

 

We’ve been working on lifting achievement in education and it’s delivering great results. http://ntnl.org.nz/1lYaAnw #Working4NZ


Saturday soapbox

July 5, 2014

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse.

"What you feed your mind determines your appetite."- Tom Ziglar more at Tom Ziglar


July 5 in history

July 5, 2014

1295  Scotland and France formed an alliance, the beginnings of the Auld Alliance, against England.

1316  Battle of Manolada between the Burgundian and Majorcan claimants of the Principality of Achaea.

1321 Joan of The Tower, Queen consort of Scotland, was born (d. 1362).

1610  John Guy set sail from Bristol with 39 other colonists for Newfoundland.

1687  Isaac Newton published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

1755 Sarah Siddons, British actress, was born (d. 1831).

1770  Battle of Chesma started, between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

1775  United States Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition.

1803 The Convention of Artlenburg led to the French occupation of Hanover.

1809  Battle of Wagram started.

1810 P.T. Barnum, American circus owner, was born (d. 1891).

1811  Venezuela declared independence from Spain.

1813  War of 1812: Three weeks of British raids on Fort Schlosser, Black Rock and Plattsburgh, New York began.

1814 War of 1812: Battle of Chippawa – American Major General Jacob Brown defeated British General Phineas Riall.

1833 Admiral Charles Napier defeated the navy of the Portuguese usurper Dom Miguel at the third Battle of Cape St. Vincent.

1853 Cecil Rhodes, British founder of Rhodesia was born (d. 1902).

1865  The Salvation Army was founded in the East End of London.

1878 The coat of arms of the Baku governorate was established.

1881 A poll tax was imposed on Chinese people in New Zealand.

Poll tax imposed on Chinese

1884  Germany took possession of Cameroon.

1902 Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., American diplomat, was born (d. 1985)

1911 Georges Pompidou, French politician, was born (d. 1974).

1934 ”Bloody Thursday” – Police opened fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco.

1935  The National Labor Relations Act, which governs labour relations in the United States, is signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1937  Spam, the luncheon meat, was introduced into the market by the Hormel Foods Corporation.

1937  Highest recorded temperature in Canada, at Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan: 45°C (113°F).

1940  World War II: The United Kingdom and the Vichy France government broke off diplomatic relations.

1941  World War II: German troops reached the Dnieper River.

1943  The Battle of Kursk, the largest full-scale battle in history started.

1943 – World War II: An Allied invasion fleet sailed for Sicily.

1945 World War II: Liberation of the Philippines declared.

1946 The bikini was re-introduced in Paris.

1947 Larry Doby signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians baseball team, becoming the first black player in the American League.

1948 National Health Service Acts created the national public health systems in the United Kingdom.

1950  Huey Lewis, American musician (Huey Lewis and the News), was born.

1950 – Michael Monarch, American guitarist (Steppenwolf), was born.

1950 Korean War: Task Force Smith – First clash between American and North Korean forces.

1950 The Knesset passed the Law of Return which granted all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel.

1951 William Shockley invented the junction transistor.

1954 John Wright, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1954 Jimmy Crespo, American guitarist (Aerosmith), was born.

1954 The BBC broadcast its first television news bulletin.

1954  Andhra Pradesh High Court was established.

1958 Bill Watterson, American cartoonist, was born.

1958 First ascent of Gasherbrum I, 11th highest peak on the earth.

1962  Algeria became independent from France.

1962 The Late Late Show, the world’s longest-running chat show by the same broadcaster, aired on RTÉ One for the first time.

1970 Air Canada Flight 621 crashed near Toronto International Airport killing 109 people.

1971  The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 years, is formally certified by President Richard Nixon.

1973 Catastrophic BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) in Kingman, Arizona, following a fire that broke out as propane was being transferred from a railroad car to a storage tank, killed 11 firefighters.

1975  Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win the Wimbledon singles title.

1975  Cape Verde gained its independence from Portugal.

1977  Military coup in Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan was overthrown.

1979  Shane Filan, Irish musician (Westlife), was born.

1987 First instance of the LTTE using suicide attacks on Sri Lankan Army. The Black Tigers were born.

1989  Iran-Contra Affair: Oliver North was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell to a three-year suspended prison term, two years probation, $150,000 in fines and 1,200 hours community service.

1995 Armenia adopted its constitution, four years after their independence from the Soviet Union.

1996  Dolly the sheep became the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.

1999 – President Clinton imposed trade and economic sanctions against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

2003 SARS was declared to be contained by the WHO.

2004  First Indonesian presidential election by the nation.

2009  Roger Federer won a record 15th Grand Slam title in tennis, winning a five set match against Andy Roddick at Wimbledon.

2009 The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered, consisting of more than 1,500 items, was found near the village of Hammerwich, in Staffordshire.

2009 Ethnic rioting broke out in Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China.

2012 – The Shard in London was inaugurated as the tallest building in Europe, with a height of 310 metres (1,020 ft).

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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